You had a bad day (shout out Daniel Powter) because your boss was a friggin’ meanie. All you want to do is cocoon yourself with your comforter, watch Netflix, cry, and eat chips from a bowl using just your tongue as a utensil. One small hiccup: You have a date tonight. You feel like an ass contemplating canceling it, but perhaps you don’t need to.
That said, if you save your cancellation text for an hour before, you’re being the worst. Try your best to give the other person a heads up as far out as possible. “If you know days in advance that it may be difficult to go on the date because you’re slammed at work, communicate the circumstances to your date ASAP and let them know may need to reschedule if you’re not feeling up to it. This helps manage expectations.” says Samantha Burns, dating coach and author of “Breaking Up & Bouncing Back: Moving On To Create The Love Life You Deserve.” Then, as soon as you know it’d be best for you to hermit, reach out.
But sometimes you don’t know ahead of time that you’re going to have a shit week or day. If it’s in your (and, let’s be real, your date’s) best interest to cancel, it’s OK to hit them with the truth — especially if it’s a first date. “Let your date know the general gist that you’re out of gas and not feeling like yourself, or you’re having a hard day and not in a good mental space to be going on a first date,” says Burns. Follow up by reinforcing that you are so excited to meet them and want to make the best possible impression. “Always include two alternative days and times to reschedule, says Burns. “It shows you’re not just blowing them off.”
There are, however, times when you need to push through, say fuck it, and slap on a smile. If you’ve already canceled on or rescheduled with this person before, try your best to show up. I know from experience that it’s not always easy to get out of a negative headspace, especially when you struggle with mental health issues. But there’s also another individual’s time to think about. “People are only so understanding, and they likely have a busy dating life, too, where they are [holding] a slot with you that could have gone to someone else,” says Burns. You don’t want to gain the reputation of being as flaky as a croissant.
Once you’re on the date, you don’t have to act all smiley, happy-go-lucky, sunshine-and-rainbows if that’s not you. It’s totally cool to tell them a bit about what you’re going through — don’t get all TMI on their ass, but being authentic and honest is good. “We know through research that daters prefer substantial, deep conversation,” says Burns. “Opening up and being vulnerable creates connection.” We’re all human. Besides, your date could be going through a similar crisis, making it something you can bond over.
Should you find yourself on the verge of bailing on a date often, you may want to consider thinking a little harder before you commit. AKA, if you’re having a particularly bad month, dedicate more of your time to self-care, whatever that means for you. Burns says that part of being a savvy dater is knowing your limits and buffering in wellness days so that you’re not burnt out when it comes time to meet people. If you think you may burst out in tears or pick a fight with an innocent pedestrian, it’s probably best to arrange to stay in your cocoon and leave the metamorphosing for another day.